Taking the Catalina Eco Friendly Jeep Tour with Kids

Catalina Island sits off the coast of California, lying within LA County. It was originally settled by the Pimuvit, who called the island Pimu. It has a history of trading ownership between Spain, Mexico, and the United States as well as for its use in illegal trades and activities such as smuggling. William Wrigley Jr turned the island into a tourist destination in the 1920s, and it was later taken over by the Catalina Island Conservancy in the 1970s.

Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour sky

We’ve lived in the Los Angeles area for over two decades and somehow never made it out to Catalina. Finally this year we went on a day trip with Catalina Express. We got to check out the main attractions on Avalon including Falconry, the Casino, and the Glass Bottom Boat. The second time around we decided to explore the island with the Catalina Island’s Eco Jeep Tour.
Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour boats

What You See

Catalina Island is most noted for its impressive ecosystem, a mixture of gifts from its various inhabitants over history. The Pimuvit people brought foxes to the island, the Spaniards brought mountain goats, the Wrigley family brought deer, and a movie producer in 1924 brought bison. Naturally, many who visit Catalina want to see this interesting wildlife and plant life.
Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour ship

We stopped in Catalina during our Carnival cruise. The ship itself doesn’t dock, as it is too large for the harbor, so we went to the island via tenders. We wanted to explore the island’s natural, wild areas. We also wanted to see the spectacular views from the hilltops and observe bison, foxes, and oversized squirrels up close. Therefore, we booked the conservatory’s Eco Jeep Tour.

Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour restaurant

The two to three-hour tour takes guests through the most remote, natural parts of Catalina Island as a guide discusses fascinating island history. We were dropped off in the same place that the Catalina Express boats dock. From here, our family walked to the offices on Clarissa Street, which took roughly ten minutes. Since we got there early, we stopped by the Lobster Trap Restaurant to sample their delicious lobster roll.

Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour food

The Jeep Tour starts promptly at 12:30. We were seated with four other passengers in an open jeep with a top cover. At the time, the LA area had just experienced a month of rain. The grounds were covered in lush green which the guide explained would last until the end of May.

Taking the Catalina Eco Friendly Jeep Tour with Kids catalina eco tour pin

 

The tour itself consisted of a leisurely drive up a semi paved road to the local airport, nicknamed Airport in the Sky. Here, visitors can stop for a quick bit at the local DC-3 Restaurant.

Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour map

Our Takeaway

We loved the beautiful scenery but unfortunately didn’t see much wildlife.
Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour fox

All we saw was a lone bison in a field and an old fox begging for table scraps outside DC-3. However, this might be due to the fact we took the shorter tour with a condensed route.
Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour harbor

The jeep ride itself wasn’t too bumpy, especially for us sitting in the middle seat. The narrator was also engaging. However, it was relatively cold and two hours proved a bit too long for our son with autism.
Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour hills

Overall the trip was entertaining and a decent value for those interested in geology and ecology.

 

Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour bison

Price

The two-hour tour is seventy dollars, while the three-hour tour is one hundred and nine dollars.

Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour sand

Autism Travel Tips:

  • We recommend this trip for older kids only. Kids under six years of age are not allowed on the tour.
  • They do offer blankets in the jeep, but these blankets are fuzzy which might cause problems for those sensitive to certain textures.
  • Parents should bring blankets, jackets, hats, and ear muffs for their kids as it does get chilly, especially during winter.

Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour mirror

  • They offer the tour no matter what weather conditions. Parents should check the weather report before booking to avoid prices.
  • The restrooms at Lobster Trap and DC3 were both incredibly clean.
  • At the Airport in the Sky, kids can have fun watching small plans land and take off on the short runway.
  • Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour airpot
  • The Jeep Tour is offered in a three hour and two-hour version. The three-hour version is best to take for those who want to see a lot of wildlife up close. However, for those who might get antsy, the two-hour version would work best.
  • The tour runs on an unpredictable bumpy road. Those who might have problems with this fact should probably not book the tour.
  • Everyone on tour needs to be able to walk independently.Catalina Eco Friendly jeep tour homes

City Sightseeing with San Francisco’s Hop On Hop Off Bus

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus PIN

Many movies set in San Francisco will show a Hop On Hop Off bus at some point – a brightly colored, usually red bus where riders can sit on top and take pictures of famous attractions while listening to a tour guide.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus heartThese buses run through Downtown  San Francisco, showing passengers areas like Union Square and the SOMA district. Travelers can hop off these buses to explore the city and hop back on when they’re ready to go, listening to the City by the Bay trivia from a local guide. Particularly for families with autism, the Hop On Hop Off bus is an excellent option to see the local sites.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus bay

What you will See

The two level buses have a closed area on the bottom and an open area on the top. The top allows for a beautiful view of the city, while passengers can return to the lower part during rainy or windy weather conditions. The seats are comfortable, and riders are allowed to bring food and drinks on board. We’ve listed a few distinct stopping places here.
City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus bus

Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is a touristy area with restaurants and souvenir stores. Kids will love seeing the sea lions basking in the sun on a specially built platform. History buffs can take a cruise to visit Alcatraz Island. Kids who like arcade games can head to Musee Mechanique for old fashioned games that cost a quarter each. Travelers craving dessert should head to Ghiradelli for an ice cream sundae and watch the staff make cones while waiting in line.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus wharf

Golden Gate Bridge

Some people like to get off the bus and cross the Golden Gate Bridge by foot. It can be an exciting experience for anyone visiting the city for the first time. However, it is typically cold and windy, and fog frequently covers the area.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus bridge

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park, slightly larger than New York’s Central Park, was built in the 1860s on the barren sand and rocks then known as “The Outside.” While enjoying the sights, visitors can also explore the California Academy of Science, a renowned museum. Travelers looking for dramatic views can visit the Palace of Fine Arts. Finally, kids will love the Exploratorium, a hands-on museum for exploring art and science.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus park

Haight-Asbury District

The Haight-Asbury District is an excellent place for walking around and experiencing the spirit of 1960s San Francisco. It is also the best place to get second-hand clothing and unique souvenirs.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus hippy

Chinatown

San Francisco is home to the largest and oldest Chinatown outside of Asia. This Chinatown is the perfect place to experience authentic Chinese eateries and buy bargain priced memorabilia. Visitors should stop and check out the entrance gate with the impressive lamp posts.
City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus view

Unless anyone in the traveling group is interested in getting off to explore specific places, travelers can certainly stay on the bus for many of the sites. We recommend staying on the bus for the Painted Ladies, Victorian Homes, City Hall, Market St, Cable Car Turnaround, Union Square, and Transamerica Pyramid. The guide will explain the history of these places in intricate detail, making staying on the bus worthwhile.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus china town

Time and Cost

Hop On Hop Off buses run daily from nine AM to five PM every half hour. The entire loop can take around two hours, longer if there are any stops.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus cable

Tickets are valid for twenty-four hours from first use. Meeting PointTickets must be exchanged before boarding at 1331 Columbus St. Visitors may board or leave the bus from any of the stops. Potential travelers can buy tickets on the spot, and there’s no need to pre-book.
City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus guide

Our Takeaway

Our son wasn’t feeling well the day we went, so he didn’t want to get off at any stops except for Pier 39 and the Ghiradelli chocolate factory. He happily sat in the comfort of the bus listening to the stories and jokes of our entertaining guide.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus ghiardelli

The Hop On Hop Off bus is an excellent way to get a sense of an otherwise difficult to navigate hill filled city. The service is convenient and relatively inexpensive, especially in a bundle offer.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus museum

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Those with kids who are temperature sensitive should sit in the closed area while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, as it is usually cold and windy.Hard Rock Hotel Universal Orlando:Tmom Travel Disclosure
  • Most buses don’t have a bathroom on board. Therefore, parents may need to get off to use the public facilities.
  • Parents shouldn’t wait to return on the last bus if they are pressed for time or across town since they may miss it.
  • Parents can bring noise canceling headphones for kids who are noise sensitive.
  • There are microclimates in San Francisco, so parents should bring jackets with hoods as it may get cold even on a sunny day.

City Sightseeing with San Francisco's Hop On Hop Off Bus church

 

 

 

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum

 

 

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum pin

The Broad Museum in Los Angeles is a museum of modern art that all members of the family can enjoy. When we first heard of the museum, we thought it would not be the best destination for little kids since it wasn’t interactive. However, after visiting, we highly recommend it for all ages.
It seemed like every room was filled with whimsical elements that will fascinate visitors of all ages.

And as a trailblazer in its field, the Broad also has a fun smartphone app. This app features audio guides with talks from the artists and a kid-friendly guide narrated by LeVar Burton. Visitors can also look on the app’s map for specific pieces of art or nearby bathrooms as well as plan their next trip.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum america

What You Will See

The escalator into the building carries passengers through an impressive tunnel. One of the first things we saw when we got to the top was a see through glass elevator from the ground to the second floor. While most elevators have the wires on top, this elevator had the wires on the bottom. Our son said it looked like it was straight out of the Willy Wonka movie.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum tulip

The third floor displaying the art is built in a circular fashion, meaning guests will start and end at the same place no matter what direction they walk.

A huge theme of many of the exhibits here is that viewers have to take a second look. For example, one of the first sculptures guests see is a giant “balloon” sculpture. If one walks around the sculpture, they will see these “balloons” are giant metallic tulips.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum color

On the wall in the entrance, room is a huge eighty-two-foot long painting, called In the Land of the Dead Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow by Takashi Murakami. This picture covers two walls and has lots of interesting details put together.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum curve

The museum features plenty of abstract and political paintings. Several of the featured paintings are highly abstract, made up of only colored shapes. Some of the displays are collections of items that have no meaning individually, but in a group setting creates art.

Some areas show more political art, such as one art piece made up of several provocative essays displayed on the walls in different colors. Parents should be aware that a few of the art pieces are more macabre and adult, like Kara Walker’s African’t.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum art

The building itself features lots of spacious rooms which let in natural light through a series of giant “honeycomb” windows. These windows ensure the rooms get a lot of light without actually reflecting directly into the chamber.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum stairs

Kids will love the giant balloon animal in the Jeff Koons room. This entire place is lively and colorful, featuring such interesting art pieces as a metallic train set and Michael Jackson with his pet monkey Bubbles.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum room

Another great art piece for kids is Robert Therrien’s Under the Table, a giant table with several large chairs that guests can walk under.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum pink

Fans of the artist can visit the Andy Warhol Area with his depictions of Elvis and Jackie O. There’s also a Roy Liechtenstein area with several pieces, including Full Fishbowl.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum warhol

Finally, when we went, we got to enjoy Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room temporary exhibit. This area is a fully mirrored room lit with several LED lights. It feels like walking in space among hundreds of stars. They only allow one person in for a minute at a time for safety reasons and since it was so popular..

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum stars

Location, Hours, and Cost

Visitors can find The Broad 221 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Admission to The Broad is free. However, those wanting to see the Infinity Mirrored Room need to make a free separate same-day reservation after arriving at the museum.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum dog

Visitors can park either in the garage under the museum for $12 for three hours or at the California Plaza Garage for $8 with validation from the museum.

The Broad is closed on Mondays. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the museum is open from 11 AM to 5 PM. Thursdays and Fridays, the museum is open from 11 AM to 8 PM. On Saturdays, the museum is open from 10 Am to 8 PM. And on Sundays, the museum is open from 10 AM to 6 PM. The Broad Museum is closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Taking Kids to the Los Angeles Broad Museum chair

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should talk to kids about not touching the art since many of the pieces are inviting to feel.
  • Visitors can always ask a volunteer to explain various pieces to them. The museum is well staffed with dozens of volunteers.
  • We recommend making a reservation to avoid a wait.
  • The museum has lots of areas to sit and observe pieces or take a selfie.
  • Some of the art in his museum is more adult oriented. Some of the pieces also display frightening images. Therefore, parents of younger kids should keep this in mind while exploring.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids pin

Philadelphia was the heart of the American Revolution, the location where the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. There is so much to this city for traveling families to experience, even aside from its historical value. Here are our best destinations in Philadelphia for families with autism.

Philadelphia Zoo

This zoo is most known as America’s first zoo ever, located in the Centennial District of Philly. The zoo opened on July 1, 1874, with 1,000 animals. The city of Philadelphia takes pride in their zoo for being one of the premier zoos in the world for breeding animals that are difficult to breed in captivity. With forty-two acres, home to more than 1,300 animals, the Philadelphia Zoo welcomes visitors to explore and learn about endangered animals and how we can help them.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids cow

This zoo features a total of fifteen permanent exhibitions. One of these is the much loved First Niagra Big Cat Falls. Here, guests can walk through a naturalistic habitat and come face to face with endangered big cats around the world like Snow Leopards, pumas, lions, and jaguars. Visitors can also experience the Treetop Trails which is the first component to the zoo’s zoo360 animal exploration system. The Treetop Trails is a campus-wide network of see-through mesh trails that allows animals to leave their traditional enclosures and explore more of the campus.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids item

Franklin Square

Parents looking for something fun for the kids to do outdoors should head to the Franklin Square. William Penn planned Franklin Square along with five other open-spaced parks when he laid out the city in 1682. Also, this location is called Franklin Square to honor the founding father, Benjamin Franklin. In the beginning, the square was used as an open common use for grazing animals, storing gunpowder during American Revolution and drilling soldiers during the War of 1812. Local legend also states that this square is where Benjamin Franklin performed his famous “kite and key” experiment in 1752. While there, guests can take a ride on the Liberty Carousel, play a round of mini golf, visit the Franklin Square Fountain or run around at one of the two playgrounds.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids building

Independence National Historical Park

At Independence National Historical Park, visitors can see the Liberty Bell Center, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, and the Ben Franklin Museum. The park comprises much of the Philadelphia’s most-visited historic district. Visitors can also stop at the Liberty 360 3D show. The show is located in the PECO Theater inside the Historic Philadelphia Center. The screen is 360 degrees and stands fifty feet in diameter and eight feet high. The show is about fifteen minutes and uses the most modern technology to tell a story led by Ben Franklin about our nation’s symbols of freedom from the bald eagle to the Statue of Liberty.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids street

Betsy Ross House

Travelers who have the chance should go on over to the Betsy Ross House. At this house, visitors get to see where the seamstress lived and sewed the first American Flag. Guests can tour the house and learn about Betsy and her life or meet her themselves in her upholstery shop. There, visitors can ask “Betsy Ross” in person about her life and work as well as learn firsthand how to use the upholstery tools she used herself.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids interior

Rodin Museum

This art museum features the largest collection of sculptor Auguste Rodin’s works. It was originally founded by Jules Mastbaum, who started collecting Rodin’s works in 1923. While Mastbaum didn’t live to see the museum’s opening, it opened in 1929. Here, travelers can see Rodin’s most famous work, The Thinker, sitting in the entry courtyard. Other works such as The Kiss, The Age of Bronze, and Eternal Springtime can be found here.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids rodin

The Franklin Institute

This museum, named after Benjamin Franklin, is one of the oldest centers of science education in the United States, having been founded in 1824. Here, visitors can see many of the interesting permanent exhibits. These include Electricity, showcasing Franklin’s discovery of electricity and how it is used today, The Giant Heart, a replica heart built in 1954, and The Train Factory with a real, moving Baldwin 60000 steam locomotive. The Franklin Institute sits at the intersection of 20th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids tree

Please Touch Museum 

One of the best museums in Philadelphia for kids has to be the Please Touch Museum. The Please Touch Museum has been opened since 1976. It was the first museum in the nation that intentionally targeted families with children seven and younger. The mission of the foundation is to “enrich the lives of children by creating learning opportunities through play” as stated on their website. The museum is famous for being an area where children can freely play and touch whatever they like. Meaningful interactive play-based experiences encourage imaginative thinking.

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids inside

Autism Travel Tips:

  • In 2013 the zoo opened the KidZooU for the special needs communities. KidZooU includes Braille, sign language and a picture exchange system for children on the autism spectrum. Furthermore, on selected days the zoo has autism awareness days so parents should check the zoo website for the dates.
  • The Please Touch Museum is a highly interactive museum that kids will love.The museum offers a quiet Space for children and families who need a  break , Quiet Kits containing items and special events for families with autism.
  • Kids on the spectrum interested in science will enjoy the Franklin Institute particularly on Sundays when the venue offers their sensory friendly Sundays.
  • Franklin Square Na Independence Park are great outdoor places to take kids to burn off some energy.

 

Exploring Philadelphia with Kids

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts pin

Everyone who grows up in the United States hears about Plymouth, Massachusetts. Often called “America’s Hometown,” Plymouth was the site where the Pilgrims on the Mayflower famously arrived in 1620, “discovering” America. It was the location of the first Thanksgiving and remains a port city for the area. Plymouth makes for a great day trip from Boston, and there are two main attractions of historical significance to see: the ship and the plantation.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts sky

Historical Significance

Before the Pilgrims settled in the area, Plymouth’s location was a village of over two thousand Wampanoag Native Americans called Patuxet. European explorers visited the area twice prior to Plymouth’s establishment. In 1614 and 1617, two plagues possibly transmitted from visiting British and French fishermen killed about 96% of the local population. The tribe abandoned their cornfields and cleared areas that the Pilgrims later occupied.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts boat

As mentioned, Plymouth was founded in 1620 by the passengers of the Mayflower, the pilgrims. The pilgrims were separatist Puritans who broke away from the Church of England because of their belief that the Church did not complete the work of the Protestant Reformation. The town was named after the English city where the Mayflower departed. It is one of the oldest municipalities in the United States and served as the capital of the Plymouth Colony until the Colony merged with the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1691.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts item

What You Will See

At Plymouth, there are two main attractions: the Ship, and the Plantation. We’ll discuss each attraction separately below. In addition to these main attractions, there are many other things to do, such as checking out a cranberry farm, the 911 memorial, historic sites, museums, and different fun events.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts inside

The Ship

The ship is a full-size replica of the original Mayflower, called the Mayflower II. Travelers can explore two layers with in-character docents who tell visitors about what it was like to sail a ship in that time.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts shipGuides also inform travelers about the history of the Mayflower and the Mayflower II. Currently, the Mayflower II is at Mystic Seaport getting a full restoration until 2019. However, visitors can still see many of the shops nearby. Those interested can actually donate to help with restorations for the ship here.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts wood

Of course, visitors get to see the great Plymouth Rock, allegedly the one the first settlers stepped on upon arrival. Nearby, active kids can run around the beautiful beach front park.

The Plantation

This plantation is otherwise known as the “Plimoth Plantation.” It is a living history museum with acting volunteers and replicas of different sites.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts outside

Upon arrival, visitors first watch a movie about the settlement, detailing the history and daily life of the settlers. Only after watching the video are visitors allowed to explore the rest of the site.

The area is divided into a replica of a Wampanoag village and a Plymouth settlement. Volunteers in costumes reenact daily tasks like cooking, weaving, making posts, and making a canoe. After that, travelers can visit the artisans. Here, the volunteers show visitors how to make traditional items such as candles, clay pots and bread.
Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts bull
There is also a separate area that shows how the settlers lived – their homes, a church and even the backyards with livestock such as cows, sheep, goats, and hens. What is fascinating about these animals is that they are actual rare direct descendants of specific breeds actually used by the original settlers. These breeds include Kerry cattle, San Clemente Island goats, Tamworth Pigs, and eastern wild turkeys. Plimoth Plantation does its part to help save the genetic diversity of these rare, endangered breeds.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts native american

Location, Hours, and Admission

Travelers can find Plimoth Plantation at 137 Warren Avenue. They can locate the ship at the nearby state pier. The sites are both open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts man

To get to Plymouth, travelers can take the train from Boston, then take a cab from the train station to the ship or plantation. Travelers can also drive or take the bus from Boston’s South Station.

Taking Kids with Autism to Plymouth Massachusetts ship

Autism Travel Tips:

  • There is a cafeteria onsite. The cafe serves various foods, including “settler’s grub” and Native American staples.
  • Families can enjoy the special events throughout the week.
  • Much of the area is outdoors, so parents should take weather issues into consideration. Parents should also make sure everyone’s wearing comfortable shoes.
  • There are no wheelchairs or strollers available. However, the staff does offer golf carts to transport visitors to various sections on a first come, first serve basis.
  • There is a handy Parent’s Guide available on the website that has some great tips and educational information.

 

Taking the Family to Boston’s JFK Presidential Library

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library pin

Boston is a city full of interesting historical places for traveling families to see. However, a fascinating place every family in Boston needs to experience is the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. This library is the perfect place for families to know more about the life of this noteworthy president. Traveling families can also enjoy the nearby Edward M. Kennedy Institute.
Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library view

 

What You Will See 

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum honors the life and legacy of the President through exhibits about his public and personal life, as well as events that occurred during his presidency.
Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library office

The museum is focused on both John F. Kennedy’s public and private life. Permanent exhibits include coverage of his campaign, how he effectively used the television to get his message to Americans, the “Space Race” to the moon, furnishings from the Oval Office and exhibits about his wife, Jackie, and their family. The museum also features special exhibits about a variety of Kennedy-related topics (Presidential getaway to Cape Cod, the Cuban Missile Crisis, his Inauguration, and more).

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library appliance

Our son loved the slabs from the Berlin Wall that he had also seen in the Reagan Library. He commented on how both a Republican and Democrat president had a slab in their respective libraries. He was also fascinated with how the Kennedy family, JFK in particular, led the advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities. One of JFK’s sisters was mentally disabled, so the topic was close to his heart. Furthermore, our son liked seeing JFK’s office with a replica of the ship he was on while he was in the Navy. We also saw all the gifts sent to him and his family while they were in the White House, including a small Japanese doll for his daughter.

One of the best things to see in this museum is the artifacts and memorabilia from the JFK election period. Visitors can see an extensive collection of newspapers, TV clips, costumes, dresses, hats, and pins. All these items get guests to relieve the tense environment of the election.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library hat

Edward M. Kennedy Institute

Located near the JFK Library and Museum, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute is a tribute to the influential senator’s 47-year career. It also educates the public about the Senate and encourages visitors to participate in the democracy of the United States.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library posts

 

At the entrance to the Institute, visitors first see impressive granite pillars carved with the names of the fifty US states and the year each was accepted into the Union.
Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library hall

The Institute boasts interactive exhibits to help both children and adults gain a better understanding of this governmental body. Visitors can get a real experience of being in the United States Senate in the full-scale replica of the U.S. Senate Chamber. They can also learn all about what the Senate is, who works there, how a bill becomes law and how we can all make a difference. In fact, kids can create their own bill and try to convince fellow congress people the importance of what they’re presenting in the Senate Chamber. The Institute also features an issue of the day, rotating between Immigration, Health Care, and Civil Rights.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library ship

Visitors can also learn about Edward M. Kennedy’s legislative battles, where he stood on a variety of issues and can hear some of his speeches. Also not to be missed is his office, which includes a bust of his brothers RFK and JFK. Here, visitors can see his paintings, since Edward Kennedy had a talent for landscapes.

 

Location, Hours, Cost 

The JFK Library is located at Columbia Point, 220 Morrissey Boulevard. The Edward M. Kennedy Institute is next door at Columbia Point 210. Both are roughly a 20-30 minute drive out of Boston. The JFK Library is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM, and the Institute is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9 AM to 5 PM and Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library display

Admission to the JFK Library is $14 for adults and $10 for children 13-17. Children under 12 get in for free, and there are various discounts for seniors, college students, and veterans/active military.

Admission to the Institute is $16 for adults 25-61, $14 for adults 18-24, and $8 for children 6-17. One can get discounts for seniors, veterans, and MA residents, and children under 6 get in for free. Visitors can enjoy a $2 discount if they show a same-day ticket for the JFK Library.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library tv

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The JFK museum features a free educational iPad app for children called the JFK Challenges. This app focuses on astronauts and the moon landing, as well as the Peace Corps created during JFK’s presidency.
  • There are some great resources on the website to help prepare children or adults who might not know what to expect at the museum. These sites include photos and recordings of speeches from John F. Kennedy, a family tree that starts all the way back with Joseph P. Kennedy (born in 1888) and the many legacies that JFK has left behind (the Peace Corps, Green Berets, different funds and charities).
  • Families should attend a family friendly docent-led tour to learn more about the highlights of the museum.
  • Both institutions are ideal for older, school-aged children. However, younger ones might have a tough time staying interested.
  • The website recommends 1.5-2 hours to visit the Edward M. Kennedy Institute.
  • Visitors can enjoy a café, gift shop, and coat check at the Institute.
  • The Institute is wheelchair friendly.

Taking the Family to Boston's JFK Presidential Library variety

 

 

 

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS?

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS? pin

 

With more and more cities offering a “city pass,” many families might be wondering if it is worth it. On a recent trip to Boston, we decided to grab city passes and ended up saving some money!

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS? building

What is it?        

The Boston CityPASS is a ticket that can work for admission to the city’s four major attractions – the New England Aquarium, the Museum of Science, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and either the Skywalk Observatory or the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Currently, a CityPASS is $49 for adults (ages 12+) and $36 for children (ages 3-11). Buyers also get nine consecutive days to visit the attractions, beginning on the first day of use.

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS? turtle

We got it for the day and focused on the four main sites within the city. Since Boston is a compact city, it is easy to get from place to place. We wanted a mixture of art, history, and animal interactions. Here’s what we got to see in one day.

Pros

Buying the CityPASS in advance saves visitors 46% off what they would pay if they paid for each attraction individually. Also, the CityPASS will also save time because it allows buyers to skip the ticket line.

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS? flag

Cons

This card isn’t the best option for families who don’t want to visit a large number of attractions in a short amount of time since it is pricey.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

While the Museum of Fine Arts is not as interactive or kid friendly as the other local museums, they have family programs throughout the week, most of which are included in the admission cost. The exhibits change throughout the year and include paintings, photographs and sculptures from artists around the world, with a variety of themes.

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS? art

The museum is located at 465 Huntington Avenue. Their hours are 10 am – 4:45 pm Sat-Tue and 10 am – 9:45 pm Wed-Fri. Our son found the furniture exhibit interesting.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Weekday afternoons are the best time to visit to avoid crowds.
  • The museum has a café on-site, but limited parking.
  • The museum is wheelchair friendly. They also provide large type maps, ASL interpreters, and Assistive Listening Devices.

The Museum of Science

This museum is ideal for families who want to interact with the over 700 exhibits. There is something for everyone! Permanent exhibits include birds, butterflies, dinosaurs, the moon, math, engineering, and micro-robotics. The museum also has a 3D theater, a Planetarium, a Butterfly Garden, and a Theater of Electricity, some of which come with an additional fee.

The day we visited we got to see a traveling Pixar exhibit which delighted our son with autism.

The museum is located at 1 Science Park. It is open from 9 am – 5 pm most days.

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS? sign

Autism Travel Tips:

  • There is on-site parking, a café and gift shop.
  • Weekday afternoons are the best time to go to avoid crowds.
  • The museum is wheelchair and stroller friendly. They also offer assistive listening systems.
  • Families who require sighted guides or interpreters for a foreign language or ASL need to request the service two weeks in advance.

The New England Aquarium

Kids will enjoy looking for harbor seals on the Front Plaza and seeing Myrtle, a 550-pound sea turtle. The aquarium is kid friendly, with an interactive sea turtle exhibit and the largest “touch tank” on the east coast, with over 100 animals available for children to feel. There is also a whale-watching cruise from April-October for an additional fee.The aquarium is located at 1 Central Warf.

By the time we reached the Aquarium our son was somewhat burnt out, so we focused mainly on visiting the penguins before heading to the Wharf’s Legal Seafood for a late lunch. It is open Mon-Fri from 9 am – 5 pm, and on weekends and holidays until 6 pm.

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS? penguin

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The aquarium has on-site parking and is stroller and wheelchair accessible.
  • There is a café on-site.
  • Personal photography is allowed.
  • The best time to visit to avoid crowds is as soon as the aquarium opens.

Skywalk Observatory

The Skywalk Observatory may be a bit frightening for those with a fear of heights, but well worth the trip to see a 360-degree view of the city. It is the only observatory in New England and is found on the fiftieth floor of the Prudential Center. Also at the Observatory is the Dreams of Freedom Museum, an educational experience to give children (and adults) a sense of not just Boston’s, but America’s cultural history through interactive exhibits.

We arrived late in the day to the Observatory which worked out well since visibility was better in the afternoon. Also, this stop was short since there wasn’t much to see except a short intro movie and the spectacular city views. However, we were thrilled to discover the Observatory was next to a great shopping mall that offered multiple dinner options.

This observatory is located at 800 Boylston Street. It is open daily from 10 am – 10 pm in the summer and from 10 am – 8 pm in the winter.

Should Your Family Try the Boston CityPASS? wood

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The observatory is wheelchair accessible.Hard Rock Hotel Universal Orlando:Tmom Travel Disclosure
  • Families can get a self-guided audio tour.
  • Guests can enjoy the gift shop and restaurant on the fifty-second floor of the Prudential Center.
  • Due to weather and special events, the 360-degree view may not always be open. Parents should check the website or call before going.

Overall as a family with autism we found the pass helpful as it a fast way to visit several landmarks on the same day without standing in lines.

Have you tried the Boston passes? What was your experience?

 

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism

navigating-universal-studios-orlando-with-autism pin

Originally opened at 6000 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, Florida as a single theme park in June of 1990, the famous Universal Studios Orlando still flourishes. Islands of Adventure was added later, and together these movie-inspired theme parks draw almost 30 million visitors per year.For visitors who have autism, visiting a theme park can be fun but also quite challenging. To help families plan their visit here are our tips and suggestions.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism fire

What You Will See

Rides

The rides in the park range from mild to extreme and may present some sensory challenges for visitors with autism.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism ride

Children on the autism spectrum can range anywhere from thrill seekers that crave G-forces, and sharp roller coaster turns to being sensitive to even the slightest of motion. Many rides include moderate to high movement while others are tame. Furthermore, many of the rides are digitally simulated which involves being rocked in a seat.
Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism roller

 

The park’s most extreme rides include Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Revenge of the Mummy, and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. All of these rides feature sudden stops, spins, and turns. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts is a simulated coaster but still features extreme movements in all directions except upside down.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism river

 

More moderate rides include Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Transformers 3D, Pteranodon Flyers, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. In Despicable Me Mayhem, guests can choose immovable chairs for a more surefooted experience.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism boat
The feet of guests dangle on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which can prove a problem to some kids.  While Pteranodon Flyers is a smooth ride, it does suspend riders in flight over the Jurassic Park and is therefore not for those afraid of heights.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism red

 

The milder rides include Men in Black Alien Attack, Hogwarts Express, and The Simpsons Ride. The Simpsons Ride is another simulated roller coaster that’s mostly a mini Simpsons cartoon with a few ups and downs. The Hogwarts Express features mild train movement and can, in fact, be relaxing. For visitors who wish to experience very mild rides the Suess Landing area in Islands of Adventures is recommended.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism seuss

Effects

Many of the attractions at Universal feature loud noises. Some especially stand out with loud explosions, gunfire, and screams.  For example, Diagon Alley’s giant dragon often growls and spews real fire, while the train to Hogsmeade features whistles and screams.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism train

Though several rides at Universal are virtual they employ special lighting, darkness, and 3D glasses for their effects. The 3D glasses are not a requirement, so those sensitive to 3D effects can choose not the wear them during the ride or attraction. Those scared of the dark can wear a glow in the dark armband in attractions such as Revenge of the Mummy, Knockturn Alley, and Poseidon’s Fury.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism show

 

Other attractions involve water sprays, winds, and smoke effects, which can prove a challenge to some kids. Water based rides include Jurassic Park River Adventure, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, and Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges.
Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism bob

Most rides have riders wear a helmet or seat belts which again might bother some kids.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism claws

Shows

Macy’s Holiday Parade, the Mardi-Gras parade, and the Superstar Parade all run outdoors in the afternoon with spectators lined along the parade route. People can sit on the sidewalk or stand during the half hour ceremony. Parents of kids who can’t sit through the entire show can leave at any time.

 

 

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism car

Families can also visit the Character Party Zone where they can find dancers from the parade performing and gsigning autographs in front of Mel’s Drive-In.

 

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism mel

Throughout the parks, there are also mini performances where spectators can stand and attend like the Blues Brothers concert stage in front of Rip Ride Rockit, and Hogwarts Frog Choir where performers sing songs from Harry Potter movies.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism parade

There are plenty of character Meet and Greet opportunities in the parks. Though there are no accommodations for them, the lines are usually short.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism potter

Finally, there’s Shrek 4D, a 3D movie with extra sensory effects like smells and water sprays. This show is an unusual attraction but can be scary or challenging for viewers with sensory issues.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism train

 

Playgrounds

Universal boasts several playgrounds like Curious George ,If I Ran the Zoo and The Olive where antsy kids can let out steam. Many of these places feature water spray areas.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism park

For kids that are temperature-sensitive, the Camp Jurassic and Jurassic Park Discovery Center are recommended.
The former is a shady playground where children can explore secret caves, climb through nets, run across bridges and slide down slides. The latter features an air-conditioned educational area focusing on the prehistoric past.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism hat

Food

Restaurants inside the parks as well as Universal City Walk feature several vegan, kosher, halal, dairy-free, gluten-free, or nut-free options for those with special diets.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism restaurant

Guests can make reservations at most sit-down restaurants on the property. However, except during very busy times of the year, one can usually just walk into most restaurants. Diners can ask about the dietary options when they book online or by phone.
Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism hall

 

Souvenirs

Like a so many other theme parks, Universal is a souvenir heaven.
Each area has unique merchandise so guests can get items ranging from favorites like Dr. Seuss, Despicable Me, Shrek, Marvel heroes like Spiderman and Hulk to Terminator, Transformers, and The Simpsons.

 

 

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism potions
But none can compare to the memento explosion of Harry Potter items to choose from: T-shirts, school uniforms, and even owl cages. Of course, most people want to get the new interactive wands. These devices interact with various locations in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Guests can purchase these wands in several spots in the two parks, but by far the most popular place is Olivander’s Wand Shop.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism wand

Location, Hours, and Admission

Families can buy tickets online or when they get to the park. Multiple day passes are the best deal. However, the park does offer three great options for children with autism.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism duff

Universal Express Pass

The Universal Express Pass, or UEP, is a paper pass with a printed bar code that can be used around most areas of the park (excluding some Harry Potter rides). Parents can get one for everyone in the family at no additional charge when staying at any USO properties (excluding Cabana Bay).

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism coaster

They can also purchase the pass separately when arriving at the park. The UEP itself features two kinds of express passes. One offers a limit of one entry a day for each attraction. The other offers unlimited entries. Parents of children with autism who like to go on the same rides over and over again should get the unlimited pass.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism betty

 

Attraction Assistance Pass

There is also Universal’s Attraction Assistance Pass or AAP. This feature is a free pass given to accommodate guests who can’t wait in regular standby lines. One can use this pass for any ride or attraction, even one without a Universal Express Entrance. Parents can get their AAP card upon arriving at Guest Services and present identification while describing the accommodation needed. A doctor’s note explaining limitations can be useful but is not legally necessary.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism seat

The card can accommodate up to six people. It also remains valid at both parks for the entire length of one’s stay. Families just need to show a cast member their card. If a ride’s wait time is less than half an hour, they will get in immediately through the express lane. Otherwise, the cast member will write on the AAP card the attraction name, time of day, wait time, and a return time.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism street

Guest Assistance Pass

Finally, there’s the Guest Assistance Pass or GAP. These passes are identical to a one day/two park unlimited UEP. They provide immediate entry to any attraction’s Universal Express queue, regardless of the standby wait. Guests can only get these on a strictly limited basis.

Navigating Universal Studios Orlando with Autism rock

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • While the park features monthly events, summer and Christmas time are the most crowded times of the year.
  • The best way to dress is in layers since conditions vary from attraction to attraction and throughout the day.
  • Non-slip shoes are a must.
  • Parents should pack a change of clothes if anyone wants to do any water rides. The park does offer blow dryers for rent for five minutes at a time.
  • We recommend bringing a poncho to protect family members from getting soaking wet on some water rides along with flip flops.
  • The park can get crowded. Parents should snap a photo of their child to show authorities if they wander or get lost.
  • In addition, parents should get temporary tattoos or patches with their child’s name and the parent’s phone number in case they get lost.
  • Families should prepare children ahead of time that there are height restrictions on some rides.
  • Guests that can’t climb the two flights of stairs at Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade can ask staff to use the elevator to take them straight to the train platform.
  • There are no accommodations for attending parades.
  • At night, some parades may have fireworks.
  • Parents can use available lockers for shoes, socks, and small backpacks.
  • While the pathways are all paved and accessible, there might be slippery or muddy areas due to water attractions.
  • Orlando can get hot during the summer. This fact can make it uncomfortable for those waiting in outdoor lines for extended periods of time. Thankfully, many attractions at Universal are indoors and have air conditioning.
  • Those who don’t want to go on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride can go through the queue line and experience all the Harry Potter items and scenes from the films. Interested guests just need to tell the attendant they are not riding. The attendant will then show them the exit.
  • Though the park allows guests to wear noise canceling headphones, some roller coasters like Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket and other motion intense rides won’t allow it.

 

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square

 

 

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square pin

New York City is the number one destination for many travelers, and with all it has to offer it is easy to see why. Since the Big Apple is famous for its bargains and souvenirs, here are our top five shopping spots around Times Square for kids and parents.

 

nyc shopping macy's

 

Macy’s on 34th

The first place to take visiting kids is the most famous store in all of New York City, Macy’s. Built in 1902, Macy’s was originally a dry-goods store that continuously supplied the American population. It eventually became part of American culture.

Featured in numerous movies, this flagship store was considered the largest store in the entire world until 2009 when South Korea opened up Shinsegae. Despite the loss of their title, Macy’s is still the largest store in the US and its popularity grows with each generation.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square macy's

Children can explore and ride the original wooden escalators while parents shop for fashionable clothes at unbeatable prices. Those who decide to visit New York around Christmas time will be amazed at Macy’s famous window displays. Each year the Macy’s staff comes up with a different animated theme with elaborate scenery to get people even more in the holiday spirit.

 

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square american

American Girl Store

Next stop is the American Girl store, located in the heart of Manhattan. American Girl features all of the characters including the classical favorites and the current Girl of the Year. While visiting the Truly Me section children can design their very own American Girl doll with different skin tone, hair color/style, eye color, and clothing options.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square dolls

Visitors can also stop by the doll hair salon to give their American Doll a fresh look. In the ‘Dress like Your Doll ‘ section, kids and their dolls can share the same outfit and hairstyle.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square injured

 

The store features an exclusive Doll Hospital for dolls who get sick aka need repairs. Depending on the severity of the ‘injury,’ recovery can take anywhere from two to three weeks. However, they will ship the toys home.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square brunch

 

Travelers feeling a little hungry should check out the café serving a themed brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. After dinner, visitors can swing by the bookstore. Here, all of their children’s favorite characters and their stories are on display.

 

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square sweets

M&M Store

Families in the mood for something sweet should make a pit stop to the M&M store.
Located in the heart of Time Square, the store offers three floors filled with delicious little m&ms.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square liberty

The store is New York’s biggest candy store with a fifty foot, two-story high wall of chocolates containing seventy-two tubes from which guests can fill containers. Of course, guests can also purchase themed clothing, dishware, watches and piggy banks.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square hersheys

Hershey Chocolate Store

For more chocolatey goodness, families can make their way across the street to the Hershey Chocolate Store. This store specializes in the brand’s favorites like Mr. Good Bars, York peppermints, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.Those who can’t get enough of the stor’e merchandise should check out the entrance lamps shaped like authentic kisses.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square lamp

Like in the M&M store, there are plenty of logoed souvenirs here for fans to purchase. These include a giant-sized kiss ideal for birthdays and Valentine day gifts.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square kiss

Disney Store

A trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without experiencing some Disney Store magic. From the up and coming movies to the classic Disney films, this store has something for everyone who has ever grown up watching Walt Disney animation.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square diz

Visitors can find stuffed animals, games, costumes, travel cups and movies in this two-story marvel. Kids needing a rest after the extensive shopping spree can relax in the castle, read a Disney tale or watch a short animation clip. Also not to be missed is the NYC souvenir section with items that are sold in this store only.

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square castle

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should advise kids to stay close to them while walking the streets of New York City, especially at night.
  • For travelers wishing to fly with less luggage, most stores offer a ship to home option.
  • Parents wanting to partake in any American Girl activities should book tickets ahead of time. They should also mention any necessary accommodations to staff.
  • Parents of children with noise sensitivities might wish to avoid the area during peak hours.
  • Hershey’s has a strong smell of chocolate throughout the store that might present a challenge for smell sensitive patrons.

 

Top Five Kid Friendly Stores in NYC Times Square street

Family Fun on California’s Channel Islands Cruise

 

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise pin

The state of California with its beaches, forests, mountains, farmlands and deserts has some very well-known iconic landmarks from north to south. These include Hollywood, Palm Springs and Beverly Hills to name a few. With wineries, museums, theme parks and so much more, one could never get bored. However, for some children who are on the autism spectrum, it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming.

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise boat

Parents wishing to expose their kids to a less stimulating; yet still enjoyable experience should consider taking a  day trip to Oxnard.The city just north of Los Angeles is a fun place to explore with ethnic restaurants and clean beaches.Furthermore, families who love exploring the outdoors should consider taking a Channel Islands Cruise.

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise ship

Last month we had the time for just such an outing, and it was with the Island Packers touring company. We took their Vanguard single-hull trip on a three-hour tour around the five islands that have made up the Channel Islands National Park since 1980 – San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara.

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise walk

What You Will See

We set sail with twenty other passengers from the Oxnard Marina. The boat had a covered indoor area as well as an outside uncovered one on the top. As it was a sunny day, we chose to sit on the upper part.Our guide gave us a thorough explanation of the national park and its important role in the preservation of wildlife in this remote part of the world.
Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise water
Not long after we left the harbor, we were joined by dozens of dolphins who were swimming alongside us in pods. They gave beautiful displays of jumps, pirouettes, splashes, and dives.Our fellow passengers enthusiastically snapped photos and recorded video clips of these delightful creatures enjoying their swim

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise side

The islands are made up of unique rock formations with arches and caves. As they rise out of the sea, they have an otherworldly feel. Even though “California’s Galapagos” is only a few nautical miles off the mainland coast, it has remained untouched for centuries. Therefore, one can find unique fauna and flora from what is found on the continent and anywhere else on earth.

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise wave

We managed to see beautiful island birds, seals, and even sea lions. It was a real treat. For people who like ancient geography, archeology, birdwatching, hiking and being in nature, there are unique options for landing and spending nights camping, but our tour was a non-landing one. The sights were beautiful, and the tour was educational. We learned so much as we sailed past the lighthouse on Anacapa Island on our return journey after circling the islands.

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise rock

 

Location, Hours, and Admission

The Island Packers touring company is based at 1691 Spinnaker Dr. Ventura, CA. One can find Channel Islands National Park itself at 1901 Spinnaker Dr, Ventura, CA 93001.

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise sea

While one can access the guest services centers on the mainland by car, visitors can only access the islands via park concessionaire boats, planes, or a private boat.
Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise sky

One can access the park between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM. Parts of the islands can close due to weather conditions.

Family Fun on California's Channel Islands Cruise blue

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Since these tours book fast, parents need to book ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
  • Parents of kids with autism need to stay in communication with the cruise line if any unfavorable weather might cause a delay or cancellation of the tour.
  • The cruise line recommends bringing jackets as sometimes the wind comes up over the water and it can get chilly.
  • It is critical to listen to the safety announcements given at the start of the tour. The rules are there for the protection of the passengers as well as the preservation of the wildlife.
  • Parents should ensure children are seated and that they hold on tightly to the railings as the waves can cause a rough ride.
  • Those who suspect their child will need something to eat or drink during the three-hour journey should bring snacks. Crackers or small sandwiches are the best options. Under no circumstances should one throw food overboard.
  • Those with children who suffer from motion sickness should make sure everyone takes medication beforehand.
  • Bicycles are banned on the islands.

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